Team Singapore's Phua Jia H. M. (L) and Vivian Rhamanan hold the national flag after winning the gold (Photo Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters)
Team Singapore won their first gold medal in squash for 22 years when the Men’s Jumbo Doubles pairing of Vivian Rhamanan and Marcus Phua beat Indonesia’s duo 2-0 to secure the 83rd gold of the 28th SEA Games for Singapore.
The Singaporean pair won the first set 11-3. With nothing to lose, opponents Ade Furkon and Sandi Perdana rallied hard in the second set. But Rhamanan and Phua kept their cool to win 11-8 and earn the well-deserved gold for the Republic.
The last time Singapore won gold in squash at the SEA Games was in 1993 when the Republic last hosted the games.
The victory was even more impressive given that the Singapore team is made up of part-time players and had only begun training under Pakistani coach Ibrahim Gul six months ago.
Gul’s father Rahim had coached Singapore’s squash team in the 1980s, the hey day for the sport in the Republic, when he had the likes of Zainal Abidin and Peter Hill in his squad.
With a gold, a silver and four bronzes in squash, Singapore can feel confident that fortunes have changed in a positive direction.
Team Singapore's Vivian Rhamanan in action (Photo Credit: Singapore SEA Games Organising Committee / Action Images via Reuters)
“Squash is back in the Singapore sports scene, like 20 or so years ago when my father was national team coach,” said Gul.
“I am happy to take on the mantle and build on my father’s legacy in my second home,” he added.
Speaking before the competition, Gul had been confident that his doubles pair was going to get the top medal and he was delighted that his optimism proved well founded.
“It went according to our expectations. There was a lot of pressure on my boys because they were favourites in the doubles. Because of that pressure the Indonesians went for us. The boys did crack a little bit in the second set but managed to get out of it,” he said.
“With what we have achieved, every Singaporean who holds a squash racket will be inspired, especially now we have won gold after all these years,” added Gul.
“I’m very proud of the boys who worked relentlessly for six months. We had the backing and got a lot of help and facilities made available to us. But if this is what we can do in six months, think what we could do if we could keep that support and work together for two or three years?”
“We have to start looking to the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games and get our players exposure internationally. That will require funding of course but we have a lot of talent that needs to be groomed,” he said.